Marketing & Sales Alignment: 5 Practical Tips
Traditionally, sales and marketing teams do not get along. In most companies, the marketing and sales teams have little to no collaboration and countless misunderstandings.
This has to change.
In the age of integrated marketing strategies and ever increasing competition, we need to make the most of every possible opportunity. Your digital strategy has to be informed by activity and insight at every level of your organization. From a digital marketer’s perspective, your company’s sales team is probably the most important group for you to coordinate with.
The sales team provides a ‘front line’ link with your customers that can reveal incredibly valuable and effective content-based opportunities.
So, how do you do it? How do you tap into the experiences of the sales team in a way that allows for the agile adaptation of your content strategy? There’s a great deal of information on how sales and marketing teams can align their activities, but very little on how it can be accomplished from a digital perspective.
To help you on your way towards greater SMI, let’s take a look at 5 ways you can facilitate the process.
Define and Redesign the Relationship
If you’re like most organizations, the sales and marketing teams remain mostly detached. Overcoming this is the single biggest obstacle to creating alignment. It’s something very few organizations ever make it past.
There are literally entire books written on this, but let’s try to simplify things.
The first step is to conduct a weekly meeting with your sales team. If you’re a larger company, you probably already have marketing and sales meetings. Even if this is the case, it will be worth arranging a separate breakout session with a small portion of the sales team that focuses on digital collaboration. These digitally focused meetings can be incredibly useful, both for building relationships between the marketing and sales teams and facilitating information exchange.
During these meetings, make sure you focus on positives. Showcase some of the actual leads that were generated and identify where they came from. Get the team’s feedback, find out how these results can be replicated and give credit to those who were responsible.
Secondly, brainstorm the topics that seem to be the most important to prospects. What are people asking the sales teams? What do prospects want to know? These questions could provide you with extremely important marketing insights. They should inform your marketing strategy for the coming months and help you provide the sales team with more targeted leads that are much further down the sales funnel.
Build Your Content Calendar
As mentioned above, the regular meetings can be a staging ground for content ideas – but don’t stop there. Don’t just allow the sales team to add topics into the content creation process and content calendar, make it an obligation. Create a process that makes it easy for members of your sales team to add topics to your content calendar.
You could even try rotating the responsibility for coming up with new topics, allocating a different member of your sales team each month. Do whatever it takes to get them involved. In most cases you’ll find that this isn’t a chore for them. If you give them the right tools, your sales team will probably jump at the chance to get involved and help make their lives easier.
It’s surprising how often companies are not socially connected. It’s even more surprising how often sales teams are not socially connected to the organization. Social networking is all about relationships, right? And sales, that’s about relationships too, right? So doesn’t it follow that your sales team should at least attempt to connect to the organization on LinkedIn?
There are so many benefits to having a socially ‘connected’ sales team. By connecting with other members of your organization they will greatly expand their potential network, expand their own personal visibility and profile and make themselves more visible to potential prospects. This helps generate more leads and close more deals.
As a Digital Marketer, take the initiative to explain to the sales team the value of social tools like LinkedIn and show them how these tools can be utilized.
If you haven’t heard, the top of the traditional sales process has all but been eliminated. Customers now use the internet to find answers to their initial questions. They will research your product fully before they reach out. They might have even looked at online reviews and compared you with your competitors. Consumers now come to us with far more knowledge than ever before. As a result, the knowledge of the sales teams must also increase. They need to be prepared to deal with highly informed customers. This is one area where marketers can ‘give back’, and help the sales team improve the way they work.
Digital marketers need to encourage and, if possible, mandate sales teams to attend webinars, read whitepapers, participate in social media and learn about the products you sell. Doing this will increase attendance at events, encourage the promotion of marketing efforts and increase social participation across the board. By giving your sales team the content they need to prepare, their conversion rates will inevitably increase.
As your sales team closes deals and makes announcements of new clients, ask them to provide recognition for lead sources. Recognizing where the leads came from, especially if they are digital leads, is encouraging to the marketing team and will inspire them (you) to ‘keep up the good work’. This recognition will help drive everyone to further collaboration and succeed.
Integrated digital marketing campaigns are essential to success. They harness the unfulfilled marketing potential of every department in your organization. However, very few departments will be as integral to your company’s marketing success as the sales team. Utilizing the experience of the sales team is probably the biggest single step any organization can take towards a successfully integrated digital campaign.
Are you doing enough to make it happen?